This week, Mark ‘Run Geordie Run’ Allison has celebrated both his second wedding anniversary and 45th birthday pounding the pavements of Slovenia, as he continues his run across Europe in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Children’s Foundation.
Now on Day 75 of the run, sponsored by SOS Group Ltd., Mark and his volunteer support team have needed to put in what he describes as “a monumental effort” to cover the 2,318 miles to this point.
Challenges have arisen in all sorts of unexpected ways – with the motor home, the weather (both heat and torrential rain), directions and road closures – as well as those that could be anticipated, not least running over the Alps and Pyrenees.
In addition, a new end point for the run has been agreed with the two charities following the recent, appalling attacks in Istanbul, Turkey.
Mark will now finish the Europe leg of his Around the World Run in Belgrade, Serbia, on 21st July (previously 28th July in Istanbul). This means his overall mileage for the run across Europe will be 2,650 miles in 82 days – nearly 300 miles further than his Australia run and giving a total of 9,000 miles run so far around the world.
Mark says: “It’s been a difficult decision to change the run at this stage. There was a tremendous amount of preparation involved in choosing the route and I was really looking forward to the finish being in Turkey.
“However, the safety concerns were such that it just wasn’t sensible to continue as planned, either for me or the support team.
“The two charities were, rightly, concerned and after expert advice from the Consul General of Turkey we all agreed the best thing to do would be to revise the route.
“I’ll now finish in Belgrade, which gives us options to go north or south of the Black Sea for the next stage of the Around the World Run.”
Mark, a software developer from Northumberland, has now run through Portugal, Spain, Andorra, France, Italy and Austria. He is currently in Slovenia and has Croatia and Serbia to come.
Mark adds: “Every day, there’s something new to overcome. Small things, like issues with water system in the RV meaning we can’t shower, and that’s not fun for me or the support team.
“But we didn’t undertake this run for the fun of it. It’s supposed to be a great challenge and it’s proving to be so. In fact, I’m finding it harder than any other run I’ve done.
“I hope that everyone kind enough to have made a donation to the two charities feels I’ve earned it. We’ve now raised £39,835 though this Europe run and knowing that is what keeps me going.”
Mark, a father-of-one from Bedlington, Northumberland, set himself the phenomenal charity challenge of running 20,000 miles around the world and in order to complete the Europe segment of the run, he is running around 38 miles almost every day.
Mark’s headline sponsor is UK-based office technology and services company, SOS Group Ltd., and he has already run the length of the UK, across the USA and Australia.
He is also receiving support from Fresh Freight Group, Chapman Ventilation, Cherry Active, D-Line Cable Management, Brooks Running Shoes, Virgin Money and Sport Newcastle.
These generous commercial sponsors are enabling Mark to raise additional charity funds through t-shirt sales and events as well as ensuring he is kitted out with the specialist equipment and footwear he will need.
Like Mark, the Run Geordie Run Support Team consists entirely of unpaid volunteers who are taking time off work to join the challenge.
Paying for their own travel expenses, they accompany and support Mark each day, helping him cope with the physical and mental pressures and providing vital encouragement as the miles take their toll.
Run Geordie Run Around the World:
Mark’s challenge began, although he didn’t know it at that time, with his John O’Groats to Land’s End 874 mile run in 2007. He has also already ‘ticked off’ the USA (2011) and Australia (2013), 3,100 miles and 2,384 miles respectively, but still has approximately 13,642 miles to go.
The European leg has brought its own set of challenges, not least running through 11 different countries.
Mark began on 1 May in Lisbon, Portugal, and will finish 82 days and 2,650 miles later in Belgrade, Serbia, on 21 July.
The chosen route passes through Portugal, Spain, Andorra, France, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Croatia and Serbia.
It includes both the Pyrenees and the Alps and takes in many huge climbs (15 Tour de France and one Giro d’Italia climbs) including the Stelvio Pass (9,045 feet) in the Italian Alps.
It is a huge step up from his previous runs in terms of distance and elevation and, as well as mental, physical and logistical difficulties, there are language and cultural barriers to overcome.
After Europe, Mark will tackle the Georgia, Russia and Kazakhstan leg (2018), then China (2020), Japan (2021) and New Zealand (2022) – all timings are approximate and dependent on Mark’s circumstances.
For more information about Run Geordie Run Around the World please visit www.rungeordierun.com and follow Mark on Twitter @RunGeordieRun.
If you would like to donate to the two charities, The Children’s Foundation and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, please visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun.